From clothing to consumer electronics, Amazon enlarges product assortment available to Russian consumers
Earlier this week, marking a new step in the development of its cross-border activity, Amazon started to ship consumer electronic and digital technology products directly to Russia, the Russian information portal Lenta.ru reported.
In June, Amazon had already begun to ship household goods, clothing, shoes, and accessories to Russia. These news product categories came into addition to books, movies, and music, which were already available either for electronic purchase or for shipping to Russia.
In a separate move, Shopbop, an international e-retailer which was purchased by Amazon in 2006, launched a Russian-language version of its site last month. The site offers free shipping to Russia and other countries for orders over $100 and a customer service e-mail address specifically for Russian shoppers where they can receive help in their native language. According to Internet Retailer, Shopbop said it also will post regionally relevant news and updates on its Russian Facebook page and that its Russian site will feature regional trends, style news, and information on global fashion events.
Amazon stands as one of the most popular destinations for Russian online consumers who appreciate its immense assortment, while its prices, in many cases, remain lower than those offered by Russian online stores even when taking into account international delivery costs.
Amazon is also expected to launch its “Amazon Instant Video” online video service in Russia. Last month, the company applied to register the corresponding trademark with the Russian patent office.
It still remains unclear, however, whether Amazon aims to develop merely its cross-border activities as well as its Kindle business in Russia, or whether the site intends to launch full-fledged e-commerce activity in the country.
Sotmarket.ru CEO Vsevolod Strakh: “Amazon has many advantages over Russian e-retailers, but there are many products that it makes no sense to buy abroad.”
Vsevolod Strakh, the CEO of Sotmarket.ru, a major Russian online electronics store, has shared his views with Russian industry publication and event organizer Oborot.ru:
“Amazon is a very serious competitor, and we, of course, closely watch all of its moves,” “Amazon has many advantages over Russian players. It started selling new electronics earlier, it offers a wider selection of accessories with more updates, and it sells a large selection of products and even product categories that in principle are not available in Russia. And, of course, Amazon’s prices are cheaper. Unfortunately, such is the vendor policy in our country.”
“But there is another side. There are many products that it makes no sense to buy abroad, such as laptops without Russian keyboards, fragile items, or expensive new gadgets that are often lost during shipment to Russia,” continued Strakh. “The overall transportation cost for shipping goods to Russia, for example a widescreen TV, is more expensive than the purchase price itself, thus eliminating the money saved by ordering abroad.”
“Local stores also have the benefit of providing better service. For cross-border sales, returns are complex, there is no way to consult with someone in Russian before making a purchase, and purchases must be prepaid. According to our data, a third of buyers find these factors to be principle when choosing a store,” he added.
“And finally, when entering our country Amazon will inevitably face expensive and risky transport over a wide area. We trade electronics all over the country without prepayment, and we can estimate the size of losses caused by violations of transport conditions, theft in transport companies, and customers that simply do not purchase expensive gadgets on delivery. We are accustomed to this problem. Let’s see how Amazon will solve it,” Strakh concluded.
RUSSIAN E-COMMERCE AND CROSS BORDER SALES REPORTS – The total volume of Russian online retail is expected to reached more than 16 billion this year (up from $13 billion in 2012), not including $3 billion for cross border sales. In partnership leading universities and consultancies, EWDN has published an in-depth research on this industry.